Answers To Your Questions About Sex Crimes Allegations
I am Lynne Fleming, a Savannah sex crime defense attorney. My experience as a criminal defense lawyer includes defending individuals in three different states charged with a wide variety of sex crime allegations.
I served as an assistant Camden County prosecutor. I am currently admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. I represent clients in Bryan, Bullock, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties.
I make myself available to answer all your criminal law questions, including:
What sorts of penalties could I face for a sex crime conviction?
Besides facing enormous fines, probation and significant prison time, such an allegation can result in permanent damage to your reputation, and your name may be included in the Georgia Sex Offender Registry for the remainder of your life. A sex crime conviction may also become evidence in a civil hearing brought against you by the alleged victim.
The severity of the sentence is dependent upon a number of factors. Courts will look at your age and the age of the alleged victim, past criminal convictions and your criminal record, the specific facts of your case, and elements of the charged offense. If charged as a felony or violation of your parole, you could be looking at years of imprisonment. For these reasons, I cannot understate the importance of having experienced criminal defense representation on your side when facing sex crime allegations.
What kinds of charges can result in my having to register as a sex offender, and what are the consequences of registration?
Georgia considers almost any kind of sex crime charge as a registerable offense. This includes rape, statutory rape, possession of child pornography, public indecency, public lewdness and other sex crimes. It is important to remember that the purpose of registering is to alert the public of your presence and that such registration could result in denial of a large number of jobs and professional opportunities for you. Courts may also use such a registration to deny you custody and visitation rights regarding your children.
What steps should I take if charged with rape or another sex crime?
It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you learn about the charges brought against you. It is also important that you gather any evidence, photos, correspondence or other items that relate to your case for review by your attorney. Please create a list of all possible witnesses as well.
Do not attempt to contact the alleged victim, or provide any statement to police or prosecuting attorneys without your attorney being present. Also, do not submit to any form of testing (including DNA testing), without first consulting with your attorney. Finally, do not submit to any searches of your home or vehicle. Remember that district attorneys and law enforcement officers can use all such evidence against you.
What defenses are available for sex crimes?
Innocence of the crime is always the best defense. The burden of proving a sex crime occurred is upon those alleging a crime occurred. Lack of evidence or unreliable evidence can lead to acquittal. Sometimes evidence such as DNA testing may prove inconclusive. There are also instances of dismissal because of tampering with the evidence.
While mental incapacity or insanity may be a defense, this may in certain circumstances only result in a more lenient sentence. Demonstrating mental incapacity or insanity in a court can be difficult.
Mistaken identity and consent are common defenses. As a criminal attorney, I know firsthand how often arrest of the wrong individual occurs due to misidentification.
What if the victim consented?
While sometimes a viable defense, consent will not lessen charges or penalties in every circumstance. For example, there is no such thing as using consent as a defense if the victim is a minor under the age of 18. Also, a mentally disabled or intoxicated individual cannot give legal consent.
Also remember that consent can be difficult to prove. Unfortunately, some sex crime charges come about due to misidentification or falsification of the incident by the alleged victim or that person’s family members. This can include the victim falsely denying that they provided consent.
Can I have my record expunged or the record sealed after a sex crime conviction?
Record sealing and expungement are extremely complicated processes. The ability to expunge or seal your conviction is largely dependent upon the nature of the offense, the severity of the crime, and whether you have served your sentence and met all of the terms of your probation. Obviously, you have grounds for expungement in the event of reversal of your conviction upon appeal or pardon of your conviction.
Will I need to have a lawyer?
Because the consequences are so severe and because the nature of the charges so complex, it is always recommended you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney when charged with a sex crime. The process is so overwhelming that it would be next to impossible to have the available legal knowledge, resources and access to expert witnesses to gain an acquittal for a sex crime charge.